Paul Greenberg
Any hope for peace and light in Syria was doomed from the start as long as a remnant of Bashar al-Assad's murderous regime was allowed to stick around. Now its death throes have become the Syrian people's. But the appointment of Kofi Annan to negotiate a peace there double-doomed that empty hope. For wherever the man goes, massacres are sure to follow. Also corruption, injustice and general chaos.

Kofi Annan is our own era's Joe Btfsplk, the Al Capp character who brings disaster to all around him while he himself goes blithely on without a scratch. Much like The Hon. Kofi Annan returning from another failed mission without a hair out of place.

Syria may be about to fulfill Joe Biden's now forgotten formula for peace in Iraq: Divide the country into three (at least) vivisected parts, one for each ethnic group/militia. Soon enough Bashar al-Assad may have to retreat to Latakia to head a rump Alawite state while Sunni, Shi'a, Kurds, al-Qaida and other assorted terrorist outfits, or just bloody-minded opportunists in general fight over the remains.

All the pieces are being set in place for a repeat of Lebanon's unending civil war (1975-91), this time on Syrian soil. But without the murky resolution.

And the world shrugs. Solemnly, of course. For there's nothing to be done. Certainly not by those who don't really want to do anything. Especially follow a clear, coherent, forceful strategy. That might cost something.

Everything this ever calm, ever dignified diplomat touches has a way of turning into a bloody mess. One year he's presiding over genocide in Rwanda, a couple of years later he performs the same dubious service in the Balkans. Anybody still remember Srebrenica, or is it as forgotten as what happened there? But you can always count on Kofi Annan to be present at the scene of the crime -- as head of a "peacekeeping" mission. Think of him as the mourner whose arrival is the surest indicator of the funeral soon to come.

Whether he is doing business with Saddam Hussein in Iraq, enabling that tyrant to kill still more and calling it oil-for-food, or standing idly by in Sudan's Darfur while the killing goes on, His Excellency Kofi Annan will emerge perfectly groomed, not a spot of blood on his Savile Row suit. He is always able to bear the unbearable suffering of others in style. Like someone passing by the most horrific of crashes in a plush limousine.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.